In last week’s column I revealed that the Book of Genesis where the Ancient of Days told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac was written in the 1445 BC. This is in Chapter 22: 1 – 19 and this was about two thousand and forty – five years before the publication of the Qur’an which gave the son to be sacrificed as Ishmael (Chapter 37:101 – 111). With this fact it is logical or correct reasoning that Christians would see the report in the Muslim Holy Book as substitution made by Prophet Muhammadu (or Mohammed).
This is because he would have regarded Ishmael as a fellow Arab and a member of his religion. Although Ishmael, the son of Abraham was an Israelite (Israeli in modern – times), he lived in Egypt the country of his mother Hagar from boyhood until he died at the age of 137 (Genesis 25:12 – 18) and was also married to an Egyptian woman (Genesis 21:9 – 21). This means in practical terms he was more an Arab than an Israelite.
But it is wrong to think that Prophet Muhammadu changed the name of Isaac to Ishmael in the Koran because it was an act of God in which he had nothing to do with it. The same with the voice from heaven calling Jesus in the Bible the son of God after his baptism (Mark 1:11) and during the transfiguration (Matthew 17:5).
Whereas in the Qur’an Jesus is described as the son of Mary not that of God (Chapter 2 verses 87 and 253 and Chapter 4:157). From the facts available in the introduction to the Qur’an the Muslim Holy Book was not written by Prophet Muhammadu. Rather the contents in it were given to him by the Heavenly Father through Angel Gabriel.
Prophet Muhammadu was an illiterate who could not read or write. This is clear from the way he was called by God at the age of 40 in a trance when he was sleeping. Angel Gabriel is reported to have told him to Read! His response on the first two occasions was: “I cannot read. But the third time in a very strong and frightening voice he was commanded to “Read” and Muhammadu’s reply was: “What am I to read?”
Then the voice told him: “Read in the name of Allah who createth man from a clot. Read; and it is the Lord the Most Bountiful, who teachest by the pen and who teacheth man that which he knew not.” What Angel Gabriel told him and the contents of the Holy Book were later explained to Prophet Muhammadu.
Islam means man’s surrender to God’s will and purpose while the Muslim Holy Book, Al – Qur’an is the Reading, the Reading of man who knew not how to read. I believe the Ancient of Days chose to give Prophet Muhammadu the Qur’an because he was an illiterate, because if he had been a lettered man most people would have said that he wrote the Qur’an and was lying that the Lord gave it to him.
The Supreme Being who created the world, the human beings, animals, mountains, rocks, rivers, oceans, forests and other things in it is the One who does what He decides to carry out and in the manner He wants. While He produced the Koran the way He did, He chose to have the Bible written by human authors who were said to have been inspired by Him or the Holy Spirit.
The 39 Books in the Old Testament were written by 27 men most of them prophets like Moses, Joshua, Samuel, Isaiah and others, while the 27 Books in the New Testament were authored by eight men, three of whom were the disciples of Jesus Christ – Apostles Peter, John and Matthew.
The five others were John Mark, the son of Mary, a woman close to Jesus (Acts 12:12), Luke the physician (2 Timothy 4:11), James and Jude, the half – brothers of Jesus (Jude 1:1), and one of Barnabas (Acts 14:14) or Apollos (Acts 18:24 & 1 Corinthians 3:5) believed to have written the Book of Hebrews.
Almighty God made the Bible to have 66 Books of a total of 1,184 chapters with 924 in the Old Testament and 260 in the New Testament. While the Qur’an He provided for Prophet Muhammadu is one book of 114 Chapters. I have made these points for the appreciation of the fact that the King of Heaven and Earth does things the way He decides and why He made the son Abraham was to sacrifice to be Isaac in the Bible and Ishmael in the Koran.
For those who will not believe that God caused the substitution of the name of Isaac in the Bible with that of Ishmael in the Qur’an I am drawing their attention to what He said in Isaiah 55:8 – 9. This is where He made the statement: “My thoughts are not like yours and my ways are different from yours. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways and thoughts above yours.” This shows that the King of kings can do what human beings perceive as unthinkable.
The beginning of the story on why Isaac was the son Abraham wanted to sacrifice in the Bible but was Ishmael in the Koran goes back to the Lord’s pronouncements in Genesis 16: 1 – 15. These are the statements which were the origin of the hostility between the Israelites (Israelis in modern times) and the Arabs and the discord between Christians and Muslims world-wide since Islam was established in the 7th century AD.
I am referring to what the Ancient of Days told pregnant Hagar, the Egyptian – born slave of Sarah, the spouse of Abraham. This was when because of the harsh way her mistress was treating her she decided to return to her country. But an Angel of the Lord appeared to her in the wilderness and told her to go back to Sarah and submit to her. He then informed her that she would give birth to a son who should be named Ishmael, which in Hebrew means “God hears.”
Finally, the Angel told Hagar that her son would be a wild man, who would be against every one and every one would be against him and would live apart from his relatives.
To be continued Wednesday, next week
10 topmost immigrant Lagosians – Barrister Sapara Williams, of Ijesa ancestry
Chief Christopher Alexander Sapara Williams is not on the list of the ten topmost Lagosians I am featuring. But I decided to write about him because he was the pioneer lawyer in Nigeria and the first Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association from 1900 until he died on Monday, March 15, 1915. Chief Sapara Williams whose younger brother Oguntola Sapara was one of the earliest medical doctors in Nigeria was the son of a freed slave who was born in Sierra Leone on Friday, July 14, 1855.
He was also a politician and one of the first in the country nominated by the British colonial government to serve in the Legislative Council in 1901. He was a member until his transition 12 years later. He would also have been the first Nigerian to be conferred with British knighthood, but his nomination was turned down because of his activism in the campaign for independence.
Chief Sapara Wiliams was said to have studied law at the Inner Temple in London and was called to the English Bar on Sunday, November 17, 1879 thus becoming Nigeria’s pioneer attorney. He practiced in England for eight years returning to Nigeria late in 1887.
He established his law chambers in Lagos on Tuesday, January 13, 1888 and began practicing within a few weeks. He enrolled in the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) 17 days later on Sunday, January 30 and was elected its first Chairman in 1900 and served until he died in 1915 at the age of 59 years, six months and 29 days.
Barrister Sapara Williams was reputed to be an unmatched advocate and one who had intimate knowledge of unwritten customary law. In 1904, he moved the motion that what are today Kwara and Kogi States be joined with South – West. This was to make the entire Yoruba – speaking people in the country to be in one region. But Lord Frederick Lugard, the Governor – General of Nigeria rejected his proposal on the grounds of administrative convenience.
For continuation next week